Partnership for Whole School Change

A PROGRAM of COOPERATIVE ARTISTS INSTITUTE (CAI)

CULTURAL PATTERNS THAT PREPARE OUR CHILDREN FOR A WORLD THAT NO LONGER EXISTS

Preparing our children for a world that no longer exists is both a conscious and unconscious education policy. It is practiced throughout our state and nation. This policy has not been changed in ways that align it with our current global market world. So, it cognitively and emotionally confines our citizens within a pre-global market world.

This education policy also burdens our citizen with the culture patterns that uphold this non-existing world. Before 1985, these defunct cultural patterns supplied the physical and psychological behaviors that made the following socioeconomic phenomena possible:

  • rural towns, communities, and urban neighborhoods that were more insular, tight knit, and social;
  • economies in this pre-1985 world that were more local, national, and regulated, as were the banks, jobs, businesses, and industries; 
  • labor markets and small businesses that were more labor intensive, numerous, and more protected from economic forces happening outside the nation; 
  • economic certainty and social status for those who were professionals;  and
  • retirement benefits, long-term employment, strong unions, and rising not stagnant wages for blue collar workers. This was possible, because our nation's capitalist were investing (with machines and training) in the productive capacity of our nation's workers not in what the the nation's capitalist invest in today — foreign workers and smart machines.

When globalization and smart machines ended this pre-global market world, our K-12 schools did not change. They continued to teach as if the cultural patterns that supported the social and economic realities listed above still existed. This is what is meant when our developers say that our schools fail to align their education policy to the global market world. The following paragraphs explain the ways this oversight has been bad news for our state, and devastating for the bottom 40% of our state's income earners. 

First, to fully appreciate the pain and frustration this oversight causes, one has to consider the minds of our children. Their minds are significantly influenced by their K-12 school system's institutional power and the high social status. We all know that K-12 school is an important right of passage in our culture, and youths who fail public school tend not to do well. Most children come to know this and hope and strive to do well in school. Children and their guardians have been socialized to believe that what the schools teach is required to successfully live and succeed in the world they live in.

K-12 school systems that have not align their education policies with our globalized world give our citizens conscious and unconscious assumptions, habits, behaviors, learning strategies and other cultural patterns that are unworkable in today's world. Preparing our citizens, to internalize these useless, miss directed cultural patterns, simply exposes them to pain and frustration.

Second, every citizen has spent 13 years and seven hour days being socialized by his or her K-12 schools. That is more time than the typical family has to socialize its youngest members. This amount of time deepens the internalization of the unworkable cultural patterns presented above.

Despite the fact that these cultural patterns cannot work, they account for our general public's key assumptions. These often unconscious assumptions underpin our general public's mistaken thoughts and feelings about the world they live in and the way the world works. This situation heightens crime, health issues, and social and political instability.

Third, our citizens, especially those who did well in school, have been socialized to believe in the efficacy of what our schools have taught them. This leads them to mistakenly assume that they have learned some of the basic cultural patterns that uphold and structure our globalized world. But in reality, many of the cognitive and experiential skills and tools they have learned contradict the world they live in. So, after each graduation a new crop of citizens join a general public that is also unprepared to navigate the world they live in. Graduation from high school is giving our citizens assumptions about the world that gives them confidence that they have some understand of it, but the world they have assumptions about ended over 30 years ago.  

Our proposal argues that our K-12 schools are creating the Dunning–Kruger effect on a massive scale. Our citizens are graduating high school with a cognitive bias about the world and how to negotiate it. What our developers call the graduation effect is causing a miseducated general public to make mistaken assumptions that cause them to overestimate their capacity to understand our current world and how to succeed in it. The Dunning-Kruger effect explains why our general public believes that their assumptions about today's world are significantly more accurate than they really are.

David Dunning and Justin Kruger of the department of psychology at Cornell University see this effect as a situation that takes place when people are ill prepared and have too little skills, or worse, worthless skills in a certain undertaking or situation. Despite being unprepared for the task at hand, people in this situation have a strong tendency to believe that they are significantly more prepared than they actually are (illusory superiority). Mistaken assumptions usually play a role in triggering illusory superiority. Dunning and Kruger first observed this bias in a classic experiment they designed in 1999. They observed that people can be so unprepared that the cognitive tools they need to accurately recognize and evaluate their actual abilities are not available to them. The cultural patterns K-12 education are creating are promoting this cognitive effect on a statewide scale.

It was the behavior of McArthur Wheeler that motivated Dunning and Kruger to study this psychological phenomenon. Mr. Wheeler made a mistaken assumption that since lemon juice is usable as an invisible ink, it would prevent his face from being recorded on surveillance cameras. So, covering his face with lemon juice, he robbed two banks and was easily caught. He was so certain (illusory superiority) that his face was unrecognizable that when he was shown the pictures of his face as he was robbing the banks, he was shocked!

Today, our general public is in disbelief about Mr. Wheeler’s ignorance and is laughing at his actions while they also suffer from the same syndrome. When they graduate from high school, they also have mistaken assumptions about the world they live in, and they assume that they are more prepared to navigate it than they actually areLike Mr. Wheeler's assumption about the powers of lemon juice, our general public assumes that the unused and useless cultural patterns they learned in school will prepare them for the world they live in. But according to Dunning and Kruger's work, our state's high school graduates will:

  • not recognize their lack of knowledge about cultural patterns that are upholding today's world;
  • underestimate the extent of their ignorance and will be unable to accurately gauge the global market knowledge of others. This will negatively effect their ability to make personal economic decisions and choose sound political, social, and economic leaders; and 
  • continue these destructive behaviors until they are taught global market knowledge.

Dunning and Kruger’s experiments explain why our unprepared citizens are so unaware of how unprepared they are. Like Mr. Wheeler, most of us have normal intelligence, but in some areas of life, all of us are Mr. Wheeler in that we lack the cognitive tools to perform well and accurately judge our performance. The anomalies of this presidential election reflect how unprepared our citizens are to negotiate the world globalization has remade and choose leaders who understand this world. This situation always results in political and social instability, and it will get worse if our schools do not stop prepare our citizens for a non-existing world. Our K-12 schools are creating this instability. Our state needs K-12 schools that can restore stability.

 

THE TABOO THAT SUPPORTS OUR SCHOOLS' CURRENT EDUCATION POLICY 

Our schools' education policy is a captive of a 12,000 year old taboo, that is against anything that provides everyone with social justice, status, and economic power. Cultural Anthropology tells us that this taboo is a cultural pattern that has upheld social hierarchy for 12,000-years.

This taboo tends to reinforce the way all people who live in stratified societies, like our own, have been socialized to treat each other. This treatment is most evident when a social situation violates hierarchy's cardinal rule — if the person is socially above you, treat them better, and if the person is socially below you, treat them worse.

Hierarchy undermines our ability to appreciate the people around us and rationally assess the value of and need for what they are offering us. The result of hierarchy is to continue policies that prepare our children for a world that no longer exist.

What makes global market knowledge a taboo, is that it gives social status and economic power to everyone. This is why this largely unconscious taboo pushes hard against teaching the vast majority of our citizens of every class and color global market knowledge. Our developers and supporters have experienced this push back from many of our state's professional and upper class leaders, government representatives, and social change activists. They have expressed this push back by being too fearful to do anything, denying that this obvious problem exists, ignoring the problems with our current education policy, and not responding to the need to change the policy. This is how the taboo prevents those who can help our state change from doing so.

This behavior insures that our citizens will continue to occupy the status and realize the potential our hierarchical society has set aside for them. Submitting to this form of hierarchy has a huge cost. First, it is un-American, it undermines the creation of our state's human capital, it suppresses the income of the bottom 30% of income earners, and this reduces the domestic demand for our state's goods and services. All of these challenges weaken our state's first world statusIf we are to maintain our state's viability and serve our children, this taboo needs to be overcome. 

A general public that does not understand the ramifications of not having global market knowledge is at great risk. These unprepared citizens are in a constant state of losing, and what is most lost are the resources they need to both live and live life with dignity. Being in a constant state of losing creates pain. This pain fosters unhealthy cultural patterns that establish destructive outcomes that hurt our state and its people. Among these outcomes is the health crises in our state that is fueling gun violence, opiate addiction, and other costly psychological and physical health issues.

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